110 million years ago
Eromanga Sea inhabited with marine life, covered this area. Sometime over the following millennia following desertification of the region, silica gel filled fossil voids of the ancient marine life as well as filling cracks and crevices in the sedimentary rock, eventually turning to opalised fossils, and seam and vertical opal as the area dried out. 40,000 years ago Indigenous people inhabited and journeyed through the land 1858 John McDouall Stuart passed through the area seeking productive pastoral land. He was accompanied by a young indigenous man named Mickey Free
Will Hutchison, a member of a gold prospecting party led by his father James Hutchison, found opal floaters.
Jim and Dick O’Neill came from Tarcoola, and found payable opal thereby opening up the field. With their friend Fred Blakeley, they made the first dugout
Government Geologist L.K.Ward came to Stuart Range Opal Field to inspect living and mining conditions 1917 O’Neill brothers contracted to sink wells in an attempt to find water
The year brought rain and an opal rush followed. Returned soldiers, mine strikers from Broken Hill and railway construction workers upon the completion of the E-W railway, came on camels and horses.
Jack Norton and Arch Burnett brought the first car to the field, won the first contract for mail delivery and start a passenger and freight service from William Creek.
Progress committee formed.
Jim Cheyne opened a store
George Burford arrived
Progress Committee held a special meeting on June 26th because a name for the field was needed to get a Post Office. A miner from White Cliffs suggested the name Coober Pedy which was adopted by a majority vote.
George Burford selected as the first Justice of the Peace and the site selected for an underground water tank
1921 The first white woman arrived – Mrs Mary Halliday
1921 Formation of a Hospital Committee to raise funds for a hospital. Sports Day to raise money for the hospital fund. 60 pounds was raised
1921-1922 Construction of 500,000-gallon underground water tank. Leftover cement used to make a cricket pitch
1921 Mounted Constables Harold Copeland and Ted Ridge stationed in Coober Pedy at the Police Camp and Lock-Up. Lack of trouble on the field saw them relocated after only 11 months
1926 Good rain filled the water tank for the first time. Minnie Berrington arrived
Population decreased. No buyers on the field. No market for luxury items like opal during the depression and WWII.
1931 Wilson family arrived
1932 Bert Wilson (junior), first white child born in Coober Pedy
Jacob Santing had the Store, trucking goods from Kingoonya for 25 years
1936-1940 Alf North postmaster, Underground Post Office
1938 Bush Church Aid commenced monthly medical clinics, flying in from Ceduna. Also flew
out any medical emergencies.
Population reduced to pensioners during WWII. No buyers on the field and the very poor market for the duration of war
1940-1947 Bill Oliver postmaster, Underground Post Office.
1946 Tottie Bryant started an opal rush when she discovered shallow opal at the 8 Mile field.
The Fire of Australia opal found by Walter Bartram at 8 Mile
Bert (senior) and Ethel Wilson, return to live at 8 Mile